Republican Senate hopeful Josh Hawley is renewing his call for the Missouri Democratic Party and Sen. Claire McCaskill (D., Mo.) to return donations received during a November fundraiser headlined by Sen. Al Franken (D., Minn.), who has now been accused by six women of unwanted sexual advances.
Hawley, the sitting attorney general in Missouri, immediately asked McCaskill to join him in calling for Franken's resignation and to return money received from him. McCaskill returned $30,000 she received from Franken's Midwest Values PAC and called for an investigation, but is yet to call for his resignation even as women continue to come forward with groping allegations against him.
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Hawley's campaign, bringing up the fact that Franken was introduced and praised by McCaskill at a major fundraiser for the state Democrats just two weeks before the initial allegation, says more needs to be done.
"Just weeks prior to the revelations on Al Franken, Sen. McCaskill stood with him and proudly took his money, and the Missouri Democratic Party did too," said Scott Paradise, a Hawley spokesman.
Franken keynoted the Missouri Democratic Party's annual Truman Dinner on November 4. He was introduced by McCaskill, who praised the fundraising boost he provided her campaign.
"Don't mistake [Franken's] wit and humor as any substitute for his heart," McCaskill said in her speech. "He agreed to come to Missouri tonight to help us, but he also agreed to work all day long helping us raise money for our campaign, crisscrossing the state."
"We had a very successfully day of fundraising for the campaign, because of this man," McCaskill said.
Hawley's campaign thinks both McCaskill and the state party should return "every single penny" Franken helped them raise. It added that McCaskill should also return money she received from longtime Minnesota radio host Garrison Keillor, a Democratic donor who defended Franken and was fired last week for "inappropriate behavior."
"Senator McCaskill should return the money from Garrison Keillor just like she and the Missouri Democrat Party should be returning every single penny raised from their fundraiser with Al Franken," Paradise said.
Both representatives for McCaskill's campaign and the Missouri Democrats failed to respond to requests for comment on Hawley's call.
It is currently unknown how much money was raised on the "very successful day of fundraising" Franken provided McCaskill's campaign, which won't have to disclose November fundraising totals until next year.
McCaskill called Franken's alleged behavior "completely unacceptable" after the first woman, Leeann Tweeden, came forward to say Franken kissed and groped her without consent. "Comedy is no excuse for inappropriate conduct, and I believe there should be an ethics investigation," the Missouri senator added.
At the fundraising dinner in November, McCaskill praised Franken's character and referred to him as a friend.
"He knows how to shine the brightest light on wrongdoing and malfeasance," she said. "He is a truth seeker and no one in the Senate does it better."
Video of McCaskill's introduction and Franken's speech can be viewed below.